Afilm pitch deck offers a visual representation of your film’s storyline from beginning to end and establishes tone and design choices. When you present your film pitch deck and screenplay in tandem, your audience gets the complete picture of your cinematic vision.
In this guide for film producers who are pitching for the first time—or publicists who are taking their pitches to the next level—we’ll break down the process of creating and refining your film pitch deck so you can make the best first impression. You’ll be one step closer to getting a “yes”—and transforming your behind-the-camera efforts into an on-screen masterpiece.
What is a film pitch deck?
First things first: If you’re new at the film pitch deck game, you’re probably wondering what a film pitch deck is and why it’s crucial to articulating your inspiration and execution.
A pitch deck serves as a visual supplement to your screenplay. Whereas the script itself will focus on the what of your vision—the plotline, the setting, and the characters —your film deck is a chance to address the who, why, and how of your film. Because you can incorporate visuals with the text, a film pitch deck allows you to demonstrate as much about the look and the feeling of your creative vision as the script does for the storyline.
At Shift, we’ve analyzed thousands of pitch decks as we developed our in-app presentation tool, Spotlight. Spotlight adds presentation capabilities to our media asset platform, that’s now growing in usage as a tool to generate customized pitch decks for your film and visual assets. With all of your production projects, assets, videos, photos, music, brand visuals, and materials in your Shift account, making a pitch deck with our comprehensive presentation tool is the easiest way to get started.
When should I make a pitch deck?
Since pitch decks are a visual representation of the screenplay, you’ll start to create your pitch deck once you’ve completed the script. One of the primary functions of a pitch deck is to share your ideas clearly with collaborators and stakeholders, but you can also draft a presentation for your own organization.
Creating a pitch deck also forces you to work through creative blocks and solve issues as they arise in real time. You can take this time to tease out some aspects of video production, from camera techniques and sound to location and postproduction editing preferences. Include your crew (cinematographer, producer, and director) in the process to streamline the preproduction process.
How do you make a pitch deck?
When it comes to the nitty-gritty, there’s no one right tool to create a pitch deck. Any slide presentation software will do. (Powerpoint, Keynote, and Google Slides are good options.) For studios, agencies, and production companies who tend to work on numerous creative projects and want to simplify pitch deck creation into a compelling online experience for viewers, you can use Spotlight by Shift.
Do you work in advertising or commercial production? Try Spotlight today for your pitch decks!
Whichever presentation tool you use, make sure it has basic photo editing functionality to give you the option to make layout decisions such as manipulating backgrounds, creating photo galleries, editing unique block text, and linking to supplemental material while ensuring the integrity of your studio’s brand identity. You can opt for more sophisticated software that lets you import videos and GIFs and really tell a complete story, but a simple PDF also works just fine.
The title page of your film deck is your first chance at making a great first impression, and the opening scene of your screenplay should also pop off the page. Your viewers’ time is valuable—especially if you’re pitching to potential investors or production companies—so engaging your audience quickly gives them a reason to stick around.
Apart from the film’s title and your name, your visuals need to convey the tone of your film. Use an expressive background and choose fonts and color schemes strategically. If you could boil your entire film down to just one or two stylistic choices, they should appear on the title page.
Check out some examples of our favorite pitch deck title pages below:
Top left, clockwise: "Dunked" by John Bickerstaff, "Phantom War" by Scott Jesschke, "In Bed" by Young Park, "Father Figurine" by Matt Kazman
Logline, Synopsis, Theme
After your title page, the first few pages of the pitch deck should set the scene based on your screenplay. While you can’t give away all of the nuances of the script, you can give your reader an overview of the film. You’ll want to include the film’s logline, a short synopsis of the plot, and the narrative themes addressed in the story. You may even choose to insert a brief excerpt from the screenplay’s opening scene, but the best advice is to keep it brief.
Top left, clockwise: "Cosmic Fling" by Jonathan Langager, "Wish Upon a Disco Ball" by Anabel Inigo, "Last Human" by Ian Wittenber, "Cents" by Sam Davis
Execution and Style
Once you’ve given an overview of your film, it’s time to dive into the actual production logistics. The execution and style slides could include information about the type of lighting you’ll be using, specific camera movements, casting and location inspiration, or unique editing techniques. You may also include music selections or costume ideas. Some filmmakers include short video examples to demonstrate camera angles and techniques.
Check out some examples of our favorite execution pitch deck style pages:
Top left, clockwise: "Baggage" by Tim Hendrix, "Notes" by Jared Wardle, "In the Dark" by Ramesh Iyer
You’ve heard of “show, don’t tell” in screenwriting. The mood board is your “show, don’t tell” in the pitch deck. On these pages, communicate the visual style and set the tone and mood of your film. You can pull frames from films or TV shows, headshots from photo shoots, still images from stock libraries or websites, or any other source you can tap for inspiration. While each filmmaker approaches this section a bit differently, it’s key that this space unmistakably sets the tone of your unique story.
Take a look at Spotlight’s design templates to get you started.
Top left, clockwise: "Father Figurine" by Matt Kazman, "Alice in Somnia" by Bree Doehring, "The Sleepover" by Gregory Bayne, "Sons of Thunder" by Chris Neal
At the end of your pitch deck, include a bit more about the studio and the team. This section shouldn’t be lengthy—a few short blurbs will do, along with roles, bios, and IMDb links. Put a face to each role so involvement in the production process becomes more personal for your viewers.
Top left, clockwise: "IO" by Andrew Reid, "Gwafi" by Peter Rosati, "Wish Upon a Disco Ball" by Anabel Inigo, "The Sleepover" by Gregory Bayne
How do you make a film pitch deck stand out?
We’ve covered the basics, but you may be looking for some advice and motivation to help you get started. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you compile your film pitch deck.
Customize Your Content
Each film project is different, and your pitch deck will reflect that. Don’t feel like you need to check all the boxes or fit into a specific mold. Are music and editing not important to generating interest in your film? Don’t include them in the deck. Are you working with puppets? Stop motion animation? A professional dance crew? Black-and-white film? Communicate these details, and show why they matter. Your pitch deck serves to help the viewer understand the full scope of your film project, and that varies widely from deck to deck and filmmaker to filmmaker.
Keep Things Brief
Remember that the purpose of a pitch deck is to provide a complete overview of your film project. While you’re probably excited to share the ins and outs of in-depth plot development and production details, refrain from including all of the details. Paint a picture viewers can grasp at a glance.
Organizing your vision in a clear, digestible manner is no easy feat. As a filmmaker, your job is to have a clear idea of what you want and to communicate that idea to your venture capitalists, your collaborators, your crew, and, eventually, your audience. Each page in the deck builds a case to learn more about the project. Avoid using language that will make you sound unsure about your final product or ability to execute.
Get started on your pitch deck - now.
Creating a pitch deck takes time, effort, and careful attention to detail. It’s truly a culmination of your team’s hard work and an opportunity to put your agency’s or studio’s ingenuity on display. While the process may be a bit tedious at times, presentation tools such as Spotlight can help you make a great first impression while having some fun presenting creative ideas for your film project.
Get started today and download sample PDF files of some of our favorite complete pitch decks to use as a template for your own work.